It’s Not Quite Clear Yet, But It Smells Like It
On September 11, 2001, 19 Muslim activists, ostensibly trained in Afghanistan and at naive American flight schools, hijacked four airliners and flew two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and a third into the Pentagon. The fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, perhaps due to a passenger revolt aboard. The operation left behind almost 3,000 dead and a lot of unanswered questions.
Subsequent deaths related to the 9/11 attacks are about to surpass the number who died on the day. According to Dr. Michael Crane, director of the World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at the Mount Sinai Hospital, nearly 10,000 first responders and others who were in the World Trade Center area have been diagnosed with cancer. More than 2,000 deaths have been attributed to 9/11 illnesses thus far. And it will get worse.
The Reichstag Precedent
In 1933, the German Reichstag (parliament building) was torched by a supposed left-wing arsonist, just a month after Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor. This event, considered an inside job by some informed observers, set the scene for his total takeover of the German state and, over the next 12 years, the rest of Europe. His first step, immediately after the fire, was to announce the Reichstag Fire Decree, permitting the police to detain people indefinitely without a court order; and then the Enabling Act that gave him broad legal powers over all aspects of German society, powers that he never relenquished and employed to wreak historic havoc in Europe.
If this sounds reminiscent of the Patriot Acts I and II after 9/11, it’s because they have a lot in common:
- The ongoing doubt regarding who engineered the attack and how
- The rapid and ongoing promulgation of emergency anti-terrorist legislation that simultaneously curtailed citizens’ civil rights
- The supposed legitimazation of military action against sovereign countries that seemed to be chosen for other reasons
- The tolerance of armed right-wing militias and commandos on the streets of his own country
- The affirmation of a policy of belligerence and über-nationalism in foreign relations
The American Experience
In concrete terms the American response to 9/11 manifested itself in gratuitous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq with disastrous long-term consequences for both of those essentially innocent countries. No cogent evidence was ever produced connecting either of them to the September 11 attacks. Years later the Americans themselves confessed that the Iraqi-weapons-of-mass-destruction justification was false.
Coincidentally, the 9/11 attacks seem eerily to have been predicted by the neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) when their Rebuilding America’s Defenses paper, written a year before before the September 11 attacks said: “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.” The neocons fortuitously got their “new Pearl Harbor” on September 11, 2001. Veteran Australian journalist and documentary film maker, John Pilger, points to this passage when arguing that the Bush administration used the events of September 11 as an opportunity to capitalize on long-desired plans.
Meanwhile, the motivation for the attacks was never made clear, though it seems evident that any ranking Muslim terrorist with a mínimum of geopolitical savvy would have immediately foreseen the untold disasters that would befall his people in the aftermath of a 9/11-style event. By the same token, any neocon would immediately perceive the benefits of that same attack when it came to frightening American citizens, stripping them of their constitutional rights and herding them willy-nilly down the path to perpetual war.
We had never seen the conspiracy-theory card played so fast and loose as in the case of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Building 7 and the Pentagon, each of which poses its own set of serious anomalies. Congressional proposals in response to the 9/11 attacks were introduced less than a week after the event and President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act bill into law just over a month later, on October 26, 2001. The bill passed with a single dissenter, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
Is Your Story Leaky? Just Label Your Doubters “Conspiracy Theorists”
The lapses and inconsistencies in the oficial version of the events of 9/11, aggravated by the clumsy investigation, soon gave rise to groups of doubters from around the world, many of them highly qualified, who came to be called the 911 Truth Movement. The architects and engineers among these doubters launched elaborate technical investigations into the anomalous circumstances of the buildings’ collapse. They allege that there is no rational explanation for their straight-down near free fall , especially in the case of the 47-story Building Seven, which was not struck by any airplane yet dropped as true as a plumb bob. Further research on the case is complicated by the fact that the debri was hauled away and exported almost immediately after the attacks and very shortly nothing remainedI of the crime scenes.
The response from the American establishment and media to the questions posed by the doubters was an effective stone wall expressed in one brief phrase: “conspiracy theories.” That was enough to settle the question for the majority of the American people, terrified or ignorant enough to accept simple, flag-wrapped explanations for events that were clearly much more complicated. Who is telling the truth? Who stands to benefit? The oficial investigation forgot even to follow the money. If it had they might have noticed that the big winners were Larry Silverstein’s Silverstein Properties which enjoyed a $4.55 billion insurance settlement and, of course, the military-industrial complex that has been bloated ever since by the sale—all over the world—of ever-more-sophisticated, fabulously-expensive arms and anti-terrorist materiel.
The trouble with “emergency legislation” like Hitler’s Enabling Act and the Patriot Act in the US is the difficulty in revoking it when the emergency has passed. Due mainly to the executive branches’greed for competencies, some of the most repressive aspects of these laws survive as toxic legacies until their most pernicious parts are eventually accepted as routine.
Enter the USA Patriot Act
The USA Patriot Act, enacted on October 26, 2001, modified many major U.S. intelligence, communications, and privacy laws, including: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and the Communications Act of 1934. (Source: it.ojp.gov) The parts of the Patriot Act that cause most concern have to do with provisions that facilitated the governments right to collect Americans’ communications records.
According to VOX.com:
The Patriot Act covered a lot of ground. Some of its provisions have since been struck down by the courts (the Supreme Court has ruled that it’s illegal to indefinitely detain immigrants who aren’t charged with crimes, for example); others have become part of the mission of the Department of Homeland Security, which didn’t exist when the law was passed. Others have stuck around and aren’t the subject of a lot of controversy: the law created a slew of new federal crimes related to terrorism, created federal funds to assist victims of terrorism, and gave the federal government a range of new powers to track and seize money being used by organizations connected to terrorism.
Though the introductory notes to the USA Patriot Act try to emphasize the protection of the civil rights of Americans, subsequent editions of the act have tightened many of those loopholes:
- the 2001 Act,
- the 2005 reauthorizing act,
- the 2006 amending and reauthorizing act, and
- the 2011 four-year extension of the “lone wolf” definition, authorization of “roving wiretaps” and “request for production business records” search authority.
The ACLU writes in 2001,
Less than two years after Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, giving new, sweeping powers to the federal government to conduct investigations and surveillance inside the United States, the Justice Department is contemplating another chilling grab of authority and further diminution of constitutional checks and balances on law enforcement.
With the Domestic Security Enhancement Act the Administration took the Patriot Act’s antiterror powers several steps further. Dubbed “Patriot Act 2,” the legislation granted additional sweeping powers to the government, eliminating or weakening remaining limits on government surveillance, wiretapping, detention and prosecution.
In subsequent years the government amended the Patriot Act three more times. The government’s response to allegations of civil rights abuse, published on Justice.gov, reads like a patronizing explanation for the most rigorous provisions of the USA Patriot Act 2, almost as if they were ashamed of it:
The Patriot Act allows investigators to use the tools that were already available to investigate organized crime and drug trafficking. Many of the tools the Act provides to law enforcement to fight terrorism have been used for decades to fight organized crime and drug dealers, and have been reviewed and approved by the courts.(Congressional Record, 10/25/01)
The Final Link
The final link in the chain of events unleashed by the Reichstag Fire was World War II. We have yet to see the ultimate results of the events of 9/11, both on the American domestic front and on foreign relations. Will the Patriot Act ultimately enable the US government to treat the Black Lives Matter demonstrators as terrorists? Will they permit Washington chicken hawks to launch unjustified attacks on sovereign countries such as Venezuela and Iran the way they did in Iraq and Afghanistan in early years of this century? Will future American agressions lead to another worldwide conflagration? The 2020 American presidential election is imminent and may be decisive in determining the final link in the series of events initiated by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Which is the candidate who will prevent the worst occurring at home and abroad? Your guess is as good as mine. And we don’t have long to wait.
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